Bangladesh warns against lingering Rohingya crisis

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 10, 2019 17:40 hrs

Dhaka, Feb 10 (IANS) The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh on Sunday said prolonged Rohingya crisis would encourage formation of pockets of radicalism, which could destabilise the South Asian region.

Speaking at a seminar on "Bangladesh and Human Rights" in Dhaka, A.K. Abdul Momen said Rohingya refugees needed to be sent home at the earliest, with safety and security, Efe news agency reported.

"My fear is, if this (Rohingya) problem lingers for a longer time, it may encourage pockets of radicalism and create problems of uncertainty and instability not only for Myanmar and Bangladesh but for the entire region," Momen said.

"Rohingya must go back to their homes, earliest the better. The global leadership must come forward to resolve the crisis at its root, not in Bangladesh," he said.

Momen, a former Bangladesh permanent representative in the United Nations, became the Foreign Minister after a new government took charge in January.

"Had Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina not sheltered the Rohingyas, it would have ended up in the gravest and worst genocide since World War II," said Momen.

"Our Prime Minister, by allowing (in) the persecuted people of the Rakhine province of Myanmar, has saved the face of global leaders from ignominy and disgrace," he said.

Rohingyas are ethnic Muslim minority concentrated in Rakhine State, and whom the Myanmar government refuses to recognise as citizens and allow basic rights.

More than 738,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, since the beginning of the crisis on August 25, 2017, following a wave of persecution and violence in Myanmar that the UN described as an attempt at "ethnic cleansing".

The majority of Rohingyas -- more than 620,000 people -- live in just one area: Kutupalong, the largest refugee settlement anywhere in the world.

"They need to be repatriated with safety and security at the earliest. Their exodus was created by Myanmar and it is their responsibility to solve it," said the Minister.

The first phase of Rohingyas' voluntary repatriation to Myanmar was due to begin in November last year, as per an agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23, 2017.

However, it could not take off because none of the refugees volunteered to go home amid security concerns in Myanmar.

--IANS

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